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Mescalero Apache of New Mexico

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A bill giving New Mexico control over national forests so fire-wary counties could cut timber was overwhelming endorsed by the Senate. Critics say it is unconstitutional and would be challenged in court. "The reports show it's not going to get better; it's just going to get worse," said Otero County Commissioner Michael Nivison. "Fire season is two months off." He said his county would consider contracting with the tribe to cut timber. "They do a beautiful job" keeping the forest on the reservation in good health. The U.S. Forest Service has suggested cooperating on forest cleanup makes more sense than fighting about. It. "I think (the legislation) is probably not necessary, and may not facilitate the work that actually needs to be done," said Charles Jankiewicz, acting deputy forest supervisor at Santa Fe National Forest.

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